Susie’s Story: Heartwarming Tale of Survival Subject of New Movie


On August 20, 2009—during the hottest part of the year—a ten-week-old pit bull/shepherd mix puppy lay dying in a park in Greensboro, North Carolina. She had been hiding and wandering there in fear and desperation for about ten days. A man who was walking his dogs in the park found the puppy—barely alive—and took action.

The puppy was taken to the Guilford County Animal Shelter. The shelter director, Marsha Williams, and her staff quickly determined that they would do whatever they could to help the puppy, which had been badly beaten and had suffered second- and third-degree burns over most of her little body.

They named the puppy Susie and began working diligently to try to save her life. The wounds from her burns were covered with more than 300 maggots, which had to be removed one-by-one from her tortured skin. Those maggots had probably saved Susie’s life by eating any infection. Second- and third-degree burns had been inflicted on over 60 percent of Susie’s body, and her ears were essentially gone.

For months, Susie endured daily treatments to heal her body. She was frequently anesthetized for these sessions because her pain and suffering would have been too great.

Susie was eventually taken in by foster parents, Roberta and Bob Wall, who supervised and aided her healing process. A few months later, Susie was adopted by her “forever parents,” Donna and Roy Lawrence.

Sometime later, LaShawn Whitehead, 21, of Raleigh, North Carolina, was arrested for abusing Susie. He faced animal-cruelty charges, among others. His excuse for attacking the helpless puppy that belonged to his girlfriend was that the puppy licked his baby in the face. By his own admission, he said that he snapped and went into a rage. He began beating the puppy, breaking her jaw and knocking out several teeth. Then he dragged her outside, where he poured lighter fluid all over her body and set her on fire.

Terrified and in agony, the puppy ran for her life and hid in a nearby park. Only Susie knows the extent of the fear, pain, hunger, and thirst that she endured for ten long days as she waited for a compassionate stranger to discover and help her.

Susie and her story of survival are the subject of a new movie, appropriately named Susie, which documents her remarkable comeback and the people behind it.  Susie’s case inspired N.C. Senate Bill 254, known as “Susie’s Law,” which strengthened punishments for animal abusers.

A theatrical release is planned for 2013.


  1. Gloria says on  06/02/2012 at 8:10 pm

    My friend is there filming it as we speak, it’s gonna be really good. :O)

  2. Too sad! They should cut the owner’s schlong off.

  3. Vicki says on  06/02/2012 at 8:10 pm

    virtual hugs to all the people who helped Susie – happy life now little one xoxoxoxo

  4. Bless her. xo

  5. Poor Susie…. What a horrific start to her life :(

  6. is there a youtube link by chance, for some reason I can’t get this link at work

  7. Emmanuelle says on  06/02/2012 at 8:15 pm

    thats a horror story beyond evil. Oh I hope this bastard got his karma refund.

  8. Donna says on  06/02/2012 at 8:16 pm

    Sooo awesome to hear she is with a forever family and the law got tougher. Where was the girlfriend when this happened? If any man tried to harm my dog he better pray the law got to him before I did. I’d end up in jail for setting him on fire.

  9. Linda says on  06/02/2012 at 8:16 pm

    Her abuser will never know the suffering she endured (and that is too bad)

  10. Analois says on  06/02/2012 at 8:18 pm

    i hope that the man who did this to her was punished severly. !!!!

  11. I hope someone does the same thing to that son of a bitch that did that to this poor loving baby Susie…..There is a place in hell for people like him!!!!!!!!!! <3

  12. Suzan says on  06/02/2012 at 8:18 pm

    Did the pos who did this to thiz poor baby do any prison time? Sure hope so!

  13. he deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail

  14. Barbara says on  06/02/2012 at 8:20 pm

    It’s about time!! :)

  15. Jen says on  06/02/2012 at 8:21 pm

    I’m so angry. Can you tell us more about the bill and its status?

  16. Andrea says on  06/02/2012 at 8:24 pm

    This just hurts my heart but am so glad she gets to live out her life. I really hope stricter laws will deter people from committing such acts.

  17. Lori says on  06/02/2012 at 8:26 pm

    The person who abused her should be locked up and taken away from society for the rest of his life. How could anyone sane do this to anything living? Bizarre.

  18. Breaks my heart. I’m so glad she made it!

  19. Denise says on  06/02/2012 at 8:28 pm

    I can only hope that someone will return the favor to the bastard that did this!

  20. Sylvia says on  06/02/2012 at 8:31 pm

    Tears are flowing as I write this . For the pain, fear & all she she had to endure , and for those who saved her. In time the person who did this will pay BIG TIME!!!

  21. Melissa says on  06/02/2012 at 8:32 pm

    I am glad to see she had a happy ending, so many of them don’t :(

  22. How did they find the man that did that to her? What a horrible temper that man has to attack an innocent puppy. He is probably a serial killer in the making. I wish he could be locked up forever.

  23. Wyatt says on  06/02/2012 at 8:36 pm

    He did this to a puppy, what’s to stop him from doing it to the girlfriends baby next time it does something he doesn’t like?

  24. Karen says on  06/02/2012 at 8:42 pm

    I am just like you Anne. Just too much to bear…

  25. Silvia SOOS-KAZEL says on  06/02/2012 at 8:44 pm

    They say one must forgive our enemies and be civil to them. How in God’s name can this be justified. How can a loving God place such punishment on an innocent animal victim? As one other person commented prior, the only good of this may be that there will be better legislation to punish such criminals. I just question, how can a civilized society produce such inhumane individuals?!

  26. If you can see this dog to the left: I adopted her on Memorial Day a year ago….. she just turned 10

  27. :O)

  28. Mary says on  06/02/2012 at 8:54 pm

    there’s gonna be a documentary coming up on HBO regarding animal shelters & what goes on. can’t wait for people to see it.

  29. God bless this poor baby.

  30. Wolf says on  06/02/2012 at 8:57 pm

    As everyone else has said. That disgusting waste of a human being needs the exact same thing done to him but this time with no rescuer.

  31. Anonymous says on  06/02/2012 at 8:59 pm

    Cant beleive that man will do something like that!
    God bless them all who helped Susie!

  32. Marilyn says on  06/02/2012 at 8:59 pm

    Bless the beasts and the children. There’s a special place in hell for people who abuse the innocents.

  33. Margaret says on  06/02/2012 at 9:00 pm

    I wonder how he treats his wife and kid. I hope the police took a closer look at his life. I have to believe this isn’t the first time he has abused an animal.

  34. Marie says on  06/02/2012 at 9:02 pm

    thank God for the people that saved Susie<3

  35. Robin says on  06/02/2012 at 9:02 pm

    John Edwards brings shame upon us…then a true tragedy lifts up hope.

  36. Robyn says on  06/02/2012 at 9:03 pm

    Well, it’s about time they strengthened the animal abuse laws! That poor baby puppy- I’m just glad she made it!

  37. Thank God for good people! The story of what happened to poor Susie is totally disgusting!!!

  38. sarahjean says on  06/02/2012 at 9:12 pm

    He has a baby?! If he can do something like that to a helpless puppy, what is he going to do if his baby does something he doesn’t like? I doubt he will be punished enough for what he has done.

  39. It never ceases to amaze me what kind of monsters are living out there in our society. This poor little sweetie was tortured for showing affection to a baby? Reading this story made me cry. That mans child should be removed from the home too. If he would do this to an innocent little puppy, what would he do to his child if he/she made him mad????? Throw this monster in a dirt cell and throw away the key!!!!!!

  40. Great story. Looks pretty good for what she went through.

  41. Michelle says on  06/02/2012 at 9:16 pm

    Why?? Got tears running down, how could he do this… My two dogs lick kids to death, dnt see me doing what he did… Honestly someone should do the same to him what he did to poor susie!! Brave soul lasting 10 days and waiting god bless her!!! Hope she spolits rotten for the rest of her life!! :-) xx

  42. God bless her….

  43. wow…..Ill be watching the movie!! Amazing dog, God bless her and please Karma, catch up with her abuser!!!!!

  44. Tati says on  06/02/2012 at 9:30 pm

    Poor little baby!! How could anyone sane do something liike this!!

  45. this happened here in my city Greensboro NC . But she is a inspiration .

  46. yes! Can’t wait!

  47. love you, Susie… <3

  48. Lola says on  06/02/2012 at 9:55 pm

    Sweet baby, such a strong loving spirit. Thank God she inspired legislation, we need to protect our innocent canine babies.

  49. Margaret says on  06/02/2012 at 9:57 pm

    Bless Susie…this made me cry

  50. Tracey says on  06/02/2012 at 10:30 pm

    Good for Susie. I know that people who adopted her love her soooo much.
    There is no punishment that is good enough for the evil human who did that to that poor little dog. I hope the laws are strict and that evil human gets a very stiff sentence.
    Susie you live a long and happy life and that is the best thing that you can do to beat that abuser!

  51. Sheila says on  06/02/2012 at 10:46 pm

    Although I hope the rotten POS that inflicted this harm rots in Hell someday. May he burn.

  52. Lindalee says on  06/02/2012 at 11:06 pm

    there simply is no sentence that is long or harsh enough for this man

  53. wish I could do the same to the guy who did this to Susie

  54. Dara says on  06/02/2012 at 11:27 pm

    The abuser is a sociopath

  55. Like many others I could not continue reading the story through all the tears. I see from comments Susie made it, I hope with much love from her new parents her emotional scars will heal as well. That thing (because he is not worthy to be called a human or even a monster for that matter) that did this to poor Susie, does not deserve ANY forgiveness of any kind from anyone! God Bless Susie!

  56. I hope the punishment is severe…

  57. That’s the kind of people, that need to be in Jail!

  58. Sandra Steen says on  06/03/2012 at 3:51 am

    Poor Susi, what kind of thing could do this ? It,s not a Human, I say give Harsher Penalties & LOT,S OF JAIL TIME !!!!! THIS SO CALLED HUMAN IS very dangerous !!!! iF HE CAN DO THIS TO AN INNOCENT DOG WHAT WILL HE EVENTUALLY DO TO A HUMAN!!!!!!!!!! If it was my choice i would do the same to him as he did to poor Susie!!!!!!

  59. Anonymous says on  06/03/2012 at 10:39 am

    Any man who abuses a puppy like that should not be close to children. He’s a danger to his wife and child.

  60. Annie says on  06/03/2012 at 1:02 pm

    It is so horrifying what some people do to animals. She licked his babies face???

    What is so wrong with someone who can do something so appalling??? It’s infuriating to know someone could inflict so much pain. And remember all… he has a kid! Is the child in danger in the future of his abuse as well?

    Punishment would satisfy our anger, but what about people and other animals that cross his path in the future? It’s not like he’s going to jail forever.

    What can be done to diminish his chances of doing something so horrendous again? I personally would much rather see this jerk get some help (anger management, therapy, medication) not so much for him but to protect others around him.

    If he’s capable of doing something like this when he snaps, to an innocent harmless puppy, what is he capable of when he perceives other types of so-called threats. Jail time, fines and forbidding future pet ownership isn’t going to solve too much.

  61. Jess says on  06/03/2012 at 7:04 pm

    only a monster would beat a dog over a kiss.

  62. Sharon says on  06/04/2012 at 2:10 pm

    What a horrible beginning for Susie. I can only imagine the cruel life she would have had to endure if she hadn’t escaped. Susie is extremely lucky and from the looks of it she realizes this by exhibiting that of a happy and loyal companion to the Lawrence family. Have a wonderful long life Susie. As for LaShawn SHIThead… you’ll get yours.

  63. Sharon says on  06/04/2012 at 5:18 pm

    I just couldn’t get this story out of my head and was curious to know what actually happened to the monster that did this to Susie. Not to my surprise LaShawn had been in trouble before that day in August. Then in November that same year he was charged with indecent liberty with a minor; was sentenced to a max of 1 year 6 months and is now a registered sex offender in NC. The charge of of animal cruelty was suspended along with three other felony 1 charges not related to the former charge, and given 48 months probation. What he was convicted of was **Burning Personal Property** as if Susie was just a thing; a couch, a car, a non breathing, non feeling piece of property. He was sentenced to a max of 8 months and served 7 mo 25 days. His total time spent in prison was 2 years 7months and 25 days and he was released Jan 6 2012. I doubt the courts have seen the last of LaShawn Whitehead or that he will no longer be a burden to taxpayers.

  64. Nick says on  07/03/2012 at 3:47 am

    When he goes to jail the guards need to tell everyone in that prison what he did, and maybe then he will get what is coming to him. What an evil SOB, he’s lucky his girlfriend didn’t kill him in his sleep. If he did that to my dog I would have peeled his skin off with an acetylene torch heated dull vegetable peeler, making sure to have epipens ready to jolt him back to consciousness with an adrenalin burst every time he past out from the pain.

  65. Anonymous says on  07/06/2012 at 10:03 am

    If he could do this to an innocent animal, he could do it to a person ~ perhaps a baby that annoyed him…

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